Wednesday 13 December 2017

Taoiseach 'damaged' by whisteblower controversy - Martin

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has accused the Taoiseach of trying to "close down the debate" on the row between the Garda Commissioner and the whistleblowers.

Mr Martin said he believed Enda Kenny has been "damaged" by the controversy, adding that his intervention today represents a "severe rebuke" to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Kenny is coming under intense pressure to support the call by Minister Varadkar for Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw controversial remarks he made about whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.

Mr Varadkar stunned Mr Kenny when he called on Mr Callinan to row back on his claim that the decision to leak information from the Garda PULSE system was "disgusting".

The cabinet has been plunged into disarray by Mr Varadkar's shock intervention. But tensions have further surfaced today after Mr Varadkar was backed by the Labour Party and in particular Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.

But speaking in Brussels today, Mr Kenny called on ministers to bring their grievances to cabinet rather than air them through the media.

The clampdown by Kenny was seized upon by Micheal Martin who accused the Taoiseach of trying to silence his cabinet.

Speaking ahead of the party's Ard Fheis in Killarney this evening, Mr Martin said he believed Justice Minister Alan Shatter's position, by backing the Commissioner, is now untenable.

He added that he believed both the Labour Party and Mr Varadkar are no longer prepared to "defend the indefensible".

"By any yardstick, the Taoiseach's comments represent a severe rebuke of the Tanaiste, Minister Burton and indeed Minister Varadkar," Mr Martin said.

"He clearly wants to shut this debate down as fast as he possibly can. Because I think he understands more than most the longer this debate carries on in the public domain, the more it inevitably undermines the position of his close colleague Alan Shatter," he added.

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